What can you Expect With Your Baby’s First Tooth?
A pediatric dentist will see patients with a wide range of ages from infancy to age twenty or twenty one. Sitting in the office at the same time may be a child less than a year old with teething pain and an adolescent with wisdom teeth problems. Many parents don’t think about a pediatric dentist until the child is a couple years of age but making that first visit by the time your child is 6 months of age is a more prudent decision.
Making the first appointment within six months after first eruption of the first baby tooth or at least by age one is the suggested recommendation. This will assure the everything is developing correctly and provides the opportunity to address any issues in their early stages.
Most times however, the parents are thinking more about the problems that can occur when eruption of baby teeth first begins. This can involve the child crying, experiencing mild pain and a general concern on the parents part about the disruption of sleep for baby and parents alike.
This is in part due to what happens just prior to eruption. The gum becomes thinner and the almost evident tooth is visible beneath the thin layer of tissue. Eventually the growing force opens up the gum and the new tooth makes its way into its position in the mouth. This often does cause discomfort for the baby.
How much Discomfort Does Teething Cause?
Fortunately for parents, many babies do not complain much during the new teething process. But most all babies do experience some typical problems and related symptoms of discomfort. Many babies will begin drooling much more than normal.
Parents are familiar with the situation of babies placing many things in their mouths almost in an effort to experience and learn about their surroundings. But when babies experience some teething discomfort, they may tend to chew objects a bit more often and longer than normal. This can often lesson some of the discomfort in the gums. Another sign is the child being a bit more agitated and fussy than normal. A slight fever may also accompany this fussiness.
It is often quite common for diarrhea to coincide with the new tooth showing itself to the world for the first time. This, however, should only be mild and only around the day of the new tooth. If the diarrhea is severe or remains constant, then a pediatrician should be consulted.
What about a Fever?
Eruptions can cause a slight temporary increase in temperature. However, a parent should monitor the situation carefully and not be dismissive of any fever as simply a normal occurrence. If the fever reaches one hundred or is sustained, other triggers are often the true cause. Ear infections are one example and are very common among children of this same age. We can often be consulted when these seemingly minor fevers occur.
Often the cause are multiple ulcers or sores in the mouth. This can sometimes cause a much higher fever and a lack of any desire to eat. These are not normal in this process of oral development and are not dental issues but rather something to be addressed as soon as possible with a pediatrician. If you are unsure what to do, call your child’s doctor. A baby can be fussy or drool much more than normal for a wide variety of reasons.
How Can You Relieve the Discomfort?
Many times a cooled teething ring or another soft, chewable, chemical safe object for the baby to chew on will soothe the discomfort and help the gums to feel better. We don’t’ normally recommended using anything like Baby Oragel which is a topical anesthetic cream. Although it does numb the applied area of the gums, there has been concern in recent years about its safety for babies.
While it can be used in a needed circumstance, we prefer more natural approaches such as the cold teething rings as previously mentioned. If you choose to use Baby Oragel, use a small amount on only the immediate agitated area of the gum for temporary relief. Please consult your pediatrician prior to giving the baby Tylenol. And remember that a fever is not always due to the eruption process.
So When Can You Expect All of This to Happen?
While this can vary from baby to baby, you will normally see this begin around six months of age. It can occur as early as 2 months or as late as up to a year. The lower front incisor is typically the first tooth to show itself. The teeth can then vary in their appearance although there is a typical pattern.
We included a chart of the typical sequence in our article on eruption. When something for the child to chew on is needed, avoid the temptation to dip a pacifier or chew ring in juice or anything else that is sweet. This can begin a pattern of sweets and decay early on. Something cool is usually all that is needed.
This entire process does bring with it some discomfort and inconvenience for the baby and parent, but it is also a rewarding and exciting time for you as a parent. Your pediatric dentist has been trained to anticipate teething problems. Remember to plan for it, keep a cooled ring ready and consult your doctor if any problems seem excessive.